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da Vinci ® Heller Myotomy at Our Los Angeles Center

Achalasia is a rare swallowing disorder that occurs in one of every 100,000 people. The condition occurs when nerve cells in your esophagus degenerate. Because your esophagus is the tube responsible for transporting food from your mouth to your stomach, the lack of cells can cause food to stall in the esophagus without moving toward the stomach. Achalasia also can affect the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscular ring that keeps stomach acid from moving into your esophagus. This can cause extreme pain when swallowing foods or drinks. The lower esophageal sphincter also can close or tighten up instead of relaxing to allow food through, which can cause a large amount of food or drink to accumulate in your esophagus, a highly uncomfortable occurrence.

Symptoms and risk factors commonly associated with achalasia include:

  • Being between 25 and 60 years of age
  • Regurgitation of food while eating
  • Chest pain, especially after eating
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing foods and drinks
  • Weight loss without trying to lose weight

 

While conservative achalasia treatments are available, they often do not present a permanent solution. If left untreated, achalasia symptoms progressively worsen. The Heller myotomy procedure, however, can offer a potentially permanent solution to the swallowing and digestive difficulties achalasia can pose.

At miVIP Los Angeles Surgery Centers, our surgeons perform a robotic Heller myotomy procedure using an innovative, state-of-the-art assistant: the da Vinci® Surgical System.

da Vinci Heller Myotomy

The da Vinci system is a revolutionary device that encompasses surgical instrumentation and imaging equipment. To perform achalasia surgery,
a surgeon at the controls of the da Vinci device uses controls to move surgical instruments. With only a few very small incisions your physician is able to insert the da Vinci’s high-definition, three-dimensional camera to visualize your esophagus.

To tell the da Vinci difference, compare a traditional Heller myotomy with the da Vinci robotic Heller myotomy. Both procedures require general anesthesia, which will place you in a deep sleep so you will not feel any pain during surgery. A traditional procedure requires making a large incision in the abdomen or side of the chest to reach the esophagus. In a da Vinci Heller myotomy, however, the surgeon makes keyhole incisions through which pencil-thin instruments can be inserted.

During the procedure, your surgeon uses the da Vinci system to cut muscles in the lower esophageal sphincter and top of the stomach. This helps to relax the muscles, which will help food pass through more easily. The success rate is high for this surgical approach, and most patients find lasting relief. An estimated 70 to 90 percent of Heller myotomy patients experience symptom relief upon healing from surgery.

The da Vinci Difference

The small incisions made with the da Vinci system present an advantage over open or minimally invasive surgery because you will have less scarring and cosmetic damage to your body. But the ability to make tiny incisions extends beyond cosmetic benefits. By disturbing your body and organs as little as possible, you can experience better post-operative recovery while minimizing surgical risks. Benefits of da Vinci Heller myotomy versus other approaches include:

  • Less post-operative pain
  • Faster surgical recovery
  • Less bleeding risk
  • Reduced risk for esophageal tearing

 

Always speak to your surgeon about your concerns for risks following the procedure. Gastroesophageal or acid reflux can be a side effect of the procedure in an estimated 15 percent of patients, thus it is important to talk with your surgeon about how you may address this issue should it occur post-operatively.

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